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Finance director: Come to meetings or forfeit half of paycheck

Beginning next month Ironton City Council members will have an incentive to attend meetings — their paychecks.

Finance Director Kristen Martin told members during the regular meeting Thursday evening that beginning in October, she will enforce an ordinance that prohibits council members from missing more than three regular meetings in a calendar year and requires the council person to forfeit one half of their monthly salary for each missed meeting after that.

Currently, the salary for the vice mayor is $200 a month and $120 a month for each councilman.

All of the council members have missed at least three meetings this year, Martin said.

The salary ordinance was passed in 1985. Since then, council has passed a new salary ordinance that established a lower pay rate for council members. Martin said she had not been enforcing the attendance rule because she was not sure if it applied now that a new salary ordinance was in place. After checking with the city solicitor, she found that the rule does still apply, she said.

None of the council members have been penalized thus far but beginning next month if they miss, they will forfeit half a month’s pay, Martin said.

Mayor Rich Blankenship has been critical of council members who miss meetings during votes on what he feels are crucial issues. It has happened much more than usual this year, he said.

“My opinion is that if someone wants to be a city council member they should attend and participate in meetings and committee meetings to improve the city,” Blankenship said. “That’s what they’re elected to do and they should fulfill that obligation.”

In other business, the Ironton City Council also:

• Heard an update on the status of the proposed new Ironton-Russell Bridge. Blankenship said he should know in about two weeks what method of financing the Ohio Department of Transportation will use and the approximate date of the bidding.

• Called a meeting of the recreation committee for 5 p.m. Tuesday to discuss a proposed city park.

The public utilities committee will meet immediately following the recreation meeting to discuss a resident’s complaint about satellite dishes in yards and the possible renaming of the Depot Square project.

The name Depot Square describes both a street in Ironton and the future construction of a farmer’s market shelter to be built along Bobby Bare Boulevard near the former Austyn’s restaurant. The fire and police departments have expressed concerned with having two areas of town with the same name, the mayor said.

• Passed an ordinance amending the annual operating budget for the fiscal year ending Dec. 31

• Passed an ordinance authorizing the mayor to enter into a contract with E.L. Robinson Engineering to administer the construction of Depot Square

• Passed a resolution supporting reforming the Clean Water Act Sewer Overflow Policy to Achieve Sustainable Long-Term Goals

• Passed a resolution authorizing Martin to enter into a loan agreement with Ohio River Bank. The loan, which will not exceed $93,000, will allow the city to replace the HVAC cooling tower for the city center.

“If we don’t replace it, soon this building will be without heat and air and we do have tenants who depend on that and pay for that,” Martin said.

The city received a cost proposal from Trane for the replacement and installation of the tower. Trane will also handle the bidding process for construction, she said.

• Passed a resolution accepting the amounts and rates as determined by the budget commission and authorizing the necessary tax levies and certifying them to the county auditor